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Although not many of us are working out of airports, hotels, and coffee shops these days, thanks to the pandemic, we are working outside of our employer's facilities. That, along with the ever-increasing levels of cybercrime and hacking, is inspiring people to install VPNs on their devices.
In a home environment, VPNs not only secure your connection from home to whatever online service you're connecting to, but they also secure your connection from others on your Wi-Fi network. If you have confidential information you don't want to share with roommates, or you'd prefer your teenager doesn't have access to corporate, health, lifestyle, or financial information, a VPN will keep the connection from your computer, phone, or tablet secure from the prying eyes of the young digital natives in your midst.
In this article, we'll present a few general installation and configuration guidelines. Then we'll walk you, step-by-step, through the installation of four popular VPNs, one for each platform. We'll be demonstrating how to install and setup NordVPN on iOS, IPVanish on MacOS, ExpressVPN on Windows 10, and Surfshark on Android.
First and foremost, you must understand that your experience with a VPN will differ from others, especially those of us doing reviews. Every Internet connection performs differently, so even though we explored what VPNs are fastest, keep in mind that where you're connecting from and what you're connecting to will differ from the experience of other users. When choosing a VPN, make sure to take advantage of the trial time or the money-back guarantee. Definitely test before committing.
Second, you'll need to decide if you want your VPN to always be on or only turn on when you tell it. If you want your VPN to be active from the moment the device boots up, make that selection in the preferences for your VPN application. If you want your VPN to be active only on occasion, turn off the enable-on-startup option for the VPN you've chosen.
Most modern VPN services have what's called a Kill Switch. Some apps turn this on by default. Others have an option buried in preferences to enable it. What a kill switch does is disable your network connection if the VPN software fails. I generally recommend turning this on, because if you're using a VPN, you want it to prevent others from seeing your data. You don't want to take the chance that if it fails, your data will suddenly be unprotected.
As with all iOS apps, when it's time to install a VPN on your iPhone or iPad, you'll need to go to the App Store and find the application. For our iOS install example, we've chosen NordVPN. NordVPN scored our top slot in average aggregate scores among a field of nearly a dozen VPNs. It was one of the fastest VPNs, and its score was consistent across most testers on the Internet.
Now let's look at the steps you'll take installing a VPN on iOS:
If you want to see this process with NordVPN, take a look at the gallery below. We show you screenshot-by-screenshot steps for setting up an iOS VPN.
Unlike iOS, few popular VPNs are available in the MacOS app store. Instead, you'll need to go to the VPN's website and download the app, open the archive, and install it manually. For our Mac install example, we've chosen IPVanish. While IPVanish didn't score near the top in terms of overall aggregate performance, we liked its relatively low ping time and quick time to make a connection. We also like the depth of control and options IPVanish offers, along with a very slick performance chart that constantly updates.
Also: IPVanish review: VPN delivers a wealth of options and browsing controls
Now let's look at the steps you'll take installing a VPN on a Mac:
If you want to see this process with IPVanish, take a look at the gallery below. We show you screenshot-by-screenshot steps for setting up a Mac VPN.
As with Mac, few popular VPNs are available in the Microsoft Store. Once again, you'll need to go to the VPN's website and download the app, open the archive, and install it manually. For our Windows install example, we've chosen ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN was near the top in terms of overall aggregate performance, we liked its wide selection of device support.
Now let's look at the steps you'll take installing a VPN on Windows:
If you want to see this process with ExpressVPN, take a look at the gallery below. We show you screenshot-by-screenshot steps for setting up a Windows VPN.
Although you can certainly sideload some Android apps, you're definitely safest (especially with VPNs) when you install a VPN from the Google Play store. For our Android install example, we've chosen Surfshark. Surfshark was a middle-of-the-road performer in our average aggregate scores among a field of nearly a dozen VPNs, but was rated as blazing fast by CNET's review. This is why we always recommend you test to see how a VPN performs for you.
CNET: Surfshark VPN review: Competitive pricing and blazing speeds from this upstart service
Now let's look at the steps you'll take installing a VPN on Android:
If you want to see this process with Surfshark, take a look at the gallery below. We show you screenshot-by-screenshot steps for setting up an Android VPN.
And there you go. You've seen it's pretty easy to set up a VPN for all four of the major platforms. Yes, I know I didn't include Linux, but let's face it: If you're already running Linux, you don't need me to tell you how to install a VPN (or anything else for that matter).
Are you running a VPN? What service are you using, on what platforms? Let us know in the comments below.
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